For some, a healthy lifestyle can mean cooking more meals at home. Studies have found that eating home cooking is associated with healthier diets and reduced spending on food overall. People eating at home tend to have more control over their food budget, portion control, and what they eat—benefiting their overall nutrition. However, if your routine doesn’t go according to plan, you can end up throwing away food and wasting money.

Meal delivery services send meal kits or prepared meals right to your door. Customers can choose their meals each week and receive a delivery of all the ingredients or prepared meals to heat and eat, saving time on meal planning and trips to the grocery store. We reviewed meal delivery services and found our top five options to help you eat at home more often. 

Best meal delivery service overall: Blue Apron

Blue Apron is a beginner-friendly meal delivery service that offers both meal kits and prepared meals. It has fresh ingredients and tasty meals at an affordable cost, making it our best overall service.

Which meal delivery service is right for you?

Compare the best meal delivery services 

Starting cost per serving* $7.99 $11.00 $4.99 $9.99 $11.99
Meal kit or prepared? Both Both Meal kits Meal kits Meal kits
Meals per week Two to five meals per week; two or four servings each meal Three to four meals per week; two or four servings each meal Three to five meals per week; two, four, or six servings each meal Two to six meals per week; two or four servings each meal Two or four meals per week; two, four, or six servings each meal
Delivery area Continental United States Continental United States Most of the continental United States Continental United States and select zip codes in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Anchorage, Alaska Most of the continental United States

* Starting cost per serving for meal kits

Our testing experience

of research
500+   hours
of research
 hand-tested
26+   platforms
hand-tested
surveyed
600   people
surveyed
and tested
200+   meals prepared
and tested

Our Handbook Team tests the top meal delivery programs by signing up as mystery shoppers to try the service and meals for one week each. So far, we have tested 26 of the top meal delivery platforms. During that time, we do the following:

Our meal delivery service testing process
1
Sign up for the service as a new member. Sign up for the service as a new member.
2
Select one week’s worth of meals. Select one week’s worth of meals.
3
Evaluate the program for dietary and food allergy options. Evaluate the program for dietary and food allergy options.
4
Place an order for the meals and set a delivery date. Place an order for the meals and set a delivery date.
5
Track and evaluate the delivery. Track and evaluate the delivery.
6
Unbox package when it arrives and document the condition and quality of all items. Unbox package when it arrives and document the condition and quality of all items.
7
Prepare meals throughout the week following instructions and recipes. Prepare meals throughout the week following instructions and recipes.
8
Evaluate each meal for taste, convenience, portion size, and freshness. Evaluate each meal for taste, convenience, portion size, and freshness.
9
Contact customer support with questions. Contact customer support with questions.
10
Cancel subscription. Cancel subscription.

We become familiar with each meal delivery service to learn how they work, the types of meals they offer, and how much effort it takes to prepare each meal. We specifically ask each tester to evaluate each meal kit for ingredient freshness, convenience, taste, portion sizing, and whether they offer meals with enough food to feed a family of four.

Testers also note the types of meals the brands offer, whether they deliver the ingredients and recipes for you to prepare your own meal, or if they deliver pre-made meals that you heat in the stove or microwave oven. If the platform gives you the ingredients to prepare, we look to see if they offer meals for different cooking skill levels. They also look at the nutritional information to see if they provide healthy meal delivery options.

We also surveyed 600 meal delivery service users to learn more about their experiences. We use these survey results, our testing data, and insights from nutrition experts to develop a thorough perspective on each meal delivery service we review.

Best meal delivery service reviews

Blue Apron: Best overall

Features

  • Price per serving: $7.99–$12.49.
  • Plans: Two to five meal kits per week offering two to four servings each.
  • Types of meals offered: Vegetarian, fast and easy, family-friendly, wellness, chef’s favorites, keto-friendly, low-calorie, high-protein, low-carb.
  • Type: Meal kits, prepared meals.
  • Delivery area: Continental United States.
  • Shipping cost: $10.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros Offers both meal kits and prepared meals. Excellent ingredient quality. Easy-to-follow instructions and pre-portioned ingredients. Cons Prep and cooking time can take longer than estimated. Packaging generates plastic waste.
Best overall

Our final verdict

Blue Apron is a meal delivery service named after the blue aprons that chefs-in-training wear. Though its weekly rotating recipes may sound gourmet, the meals from this delivery service are very beginner-friendly. Our Handbook Team testers found the recipes easy to follow, the ingredients fresh, and the prepared meals convenient for busy weeknights. 

Blue Apron meal kits come with pre-portioned produce, spice mixes, and protein. Our testers were impressed with the quality of the ingredients in the meal kits, which come with a freshness guarantee from the company. However, the ingredients are packaged in sealed plastic bags, which can generate plastic waste. 

From our tester

“I was actually really impressed with the food quality and how fresh the ingredients were! They even looked better than what I get at the grocery store.”

The prepared meals, called “Prepared & Ready” meals, are fully cooked, sealed, and ready to reheat. We like that they aren’t frozen, meaning they’re a convenient option for people who want to skip prep time but have a fresh meal at home. 

Blue Apron offers a lot of variety in their recipes, and the portion sizes can be just enough without much excess, according to our tester. This can be a plus if you’re looking to control your portion sizes. But if you’re looking for leftovers, we recommend HelloFresh or EveryPlate as options. 

Blue Apron also offers “Wellness” meals with low-calorie (600 calories or fewer) recipes. For more about comprehensive programs focusing on meal plans and behavior change to support weight loss, read our review of the best weight loss programs

Though the instructions were easy to follow and the ingredients required minimal preparation, our testers found that most meal kits, including those from Blue Apron, required some flexibility regarding estimated prep times and cooking temperatures. When we surveyed 600 meal delivery customers about their main reason for using meal delivery services, many (about one in three) respondents indicated they wanted to save time while cooking meals at home. Our Handbook Team tester found that most meal kits took a little longer than estimated to cook: for example, 45 minutes rather than 30. People with busy schedules may need to bank on more time to cook a Blue Apron meal kit.

In addition, the instructions from Blue Apron weren’t suited to cooking with our tester’s stainless steel pans, and the suggested temperature settings were a little too high for their appliances, causing some ingredients to burn. As you gain more experience with cooking, you may need to adjust your temperature settings according to your cooking setup. 

Handbook tip #1

Often, the instructions that come with meal kits may need adjustments based on your cookware, appliances, and even altitude. For example, if the instructions call for 450℉ in the oven and you see your ingredients browning or burning before they’re cooked, you may need to lower the temperature to 400℉ to get an evenly cooked meal.

Purple Carrot: Best vegan meal delivery service

Best Vegan Meal Delivery Service
Purple Carrot

Features

  • Price per serving: $11.00–$13.25.
  • Plans: Three or four meal kits per week offering two or four servings each.
  • Types of meals offered: All meals are vegan with options for gluten-free, nut-free, soy-free, high-protein, low-calorie, low-sodium, and low-prep meals.
  • Type: Meal kits, prepared meals.
  • Delivery area: Continental United States.
  • Shipping cost: Free for orders over $100, otherwise $10 in most areas. An additional $10 charge may apply depending on location.

Pros & Cons

Pros Vegan meal kits and prepared meals. Most ingredients are certified organic. Booklet of vegan recipes included with kits. Cons Additional delivery charges depending on your location. Prepared meal textures weren’t our tester’s favorite. Can’t choose delivery day.

Our final verdict

Purple Carrot is a plant-based meal delivery service offering only vegan meal kits and prepared meals. We recommend it for the adventurous plant-based home chef; its unique recipes offer enough variety for most people to find something new. In our survey of meal delivery service customers, almost half (44 percent) of respondents wanted to explore new recipes and flavors by signing up for a meal delivery service. In addition to your meal kits, the company provides a booklet of all the week’s menu choices so you can still make the plant-based meals you didn’t receive kits for. 

Purple Carrot’s vegan meal kits can be customized to fit various dietary requirements. Eating more plant-based foods can introduce more fiber into the diet, which can lower the risk of chronic diseases such as heart disease and diabetes. Yaa Boayke, a registered dietitian nutritionist in Chicago, Illinois, explains: “Fiber is essential for digestive health, helps regulate blood sugar levels, and contributes to satiety, aiding in weight management.” Purple Carrot also offers low-calorie and high-protein versions of its vegan meals, which can further support an individual’s health goals in weight loss or fitness. 

Alternative options for weight management

If you’re looking for more support with weight management goals, the Mayo Clinic Diet encourages similar plant-based and high-protein recommendations in its weight loss program. Read our full review of the Mayo Clinic Diet.

Our Handbook Team tester found that the prepared meals were convenient to take into the office for a plant-based lunch at work. Unfortunately, our tester didn’t find the taste and texture of the prepared meals very appealing. If you prefer more flavor and are particular about food textures (e.g. you like crisp instead of mushy reheated broccoli), we recommend sticking with the Purple Carrot meal kits. 

Similar to Green Chef, Purple Carrot meal kits use certified organic ingredients, as the company’s sourcing allows. Though the ingredients were fresh, our Handbook Team tester noted that the kits often took longer to prep and cook, for example, 55 minutes instead of 35 to 45 minutes. Like Blue Apron, home chefs cooking with Purple Carrot may need to set aside more time to prep meals.

Purple Carrot is one of the few meal delivery services that offers free delivery. However, you’ll have to order at least eight servings (four recipes, two servings each, or three recipes, four servings each) of meal kits to receive the discount. We disliked that people with certain zip codes may have to pay an additional $10 for delivery. For example, an address in Flathead County, Montana, would have a $20 delivery fee for orders under $100. Unfortunately, Purple Carrot was unable to provide information about all the locations affected, so customers will have to check their zip codes for themselves through the company’s customer service or sign up process. 

Purple Carrot may not be for you if you’re looking for more flexibility in delivery schedules. Customers can expect to receive their deliveries either on a Saturday, Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, and their zip code determines their delivery day. There’s no choice in delivery window times as well, so you’ll need to plan your schedule around the delivery day for your area. 

EveryPlate: Best affordable meal delivery service

Features

  • Price per serving: $4.99–$7.49.
  • Plans: Three to five meals per week; two, four, or six servings per meal.
  • Types of meals offered: Meat and veggie, vegetarian, family-friendly, fast and easy, low-calorie.
  • Type: Meal kit.
  • Delivery area: Most of the continental United States. 
  • Shipping cost: $9.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros Receive your order within the same week. Good value for per-serving cost. Generous portions. Cons Ingredients aren’t separated by recipe. Recipes may ask for extra ingredients. Recipes may use multiple pans and mixing bowls.

Our final verdict

Our survey of meal delivery customers taught us that more than half (56 percent) of respondents canceled their meal delivery subscriptions due to high costs. At a starting cost of $4.99 per serving, EveryPlate is the cheapest meal delivery service among our top picks. Despite the affordable price, EveryPlate brings a lot of value to the table. Our Handbook Team testers cooked up tasty meals with generous portion sizes, often yielding leftovers for the next day.

Compared to other meal delivery services, EveryPlate meal kits weren’t the most convenient. Unlike Blue Apron or HelloFresh, the ingredients in an EveryPlate delivery aren’t separated by meal. In addition, our testers felt like they went through a lot of steps prepping ingredients and using more than one pan or mixing bowl per recipe. For example, one recipe asked for baking vegetables, boiling rice, and using the pan to cook the protein.

Still, our Handbook Team testers were able to prepare a meal within the expected amount of time written on their recipe cards. We recommend EveryPlate as a meal delivery service for people who want to sharpen their kitchen skills and save money by cooking at home. If you’re looking for one-pan recipes, we recommend looking into Blue Apron for its one-pan and “Fast & Easy” meals. 

Meal kits typically provide all the ingredients needed for a recipe, save some basic ingredients, such as salt and pepper. Our Handbook Team testers received EveryPlate recipes that required additional ingredients that not every household might have on hand at any given time—for example, brown sugar or ketchup. If you’re cooking with EveryPlate, you can avoid last-minute ingredient swaps or missing ingredients by checking the ingredient list on your recipes when you get your delivery. That way, you can plan a quick trip to the grocery store for anything that the kit didn’t provide. 

One thing to note is that EveryPlate delivers to most of the continental United States, but not everywhere. We found that some zip codes in the west, for example, 59901 in Montana, were not in EveryPlate’s delivery area.

Handbook tip #2

Based on our experience with meal delivery services, it’s a good idea to keep the following basic ingredients on hand:

  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • Cooking oil, such as olive oil or avocado oil
  • Butter or butter substitute 

As for cookware, here’s what you’ll likely need to complete most meal kit recipes: 

  • A large pan (nonstick or stainless steel) for sauteing 
  • A pot for boiling 
  • A sheet pan for baking 
  • A knife, chopping board, and vegetable peeler

HelloFresh: Best meal delivery kit for families

Features

  • Price per serving: $9.99–$11.49.
  • Plans: Two to six meals per week; two or four servings per meal.
  • Types of meals offered: Meat and veggies, vegetarian, pescatarian, family-friendly, fast and easy, fit and wholesome.
  • Type: Meal kit.
  • Delivery area: Continental United States, and select zip codes in Honolulu, Hawaii, and Anchorage, Alaska.
  • Shipping cost: $10.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros Generous portions per serving. Easy-to-follow instructions. Good variety of recipes. Cons Can’t choose your delivery window. Some protein swaps can come at a premium cost.

Our final verdict

HelloFresh is a meal delivery service offering meal kits and grocery delivery. Our Handbook Team tester found it was a convenient and tasty choice for feeding their family of four, and there were a few reasons why. HelloFresh meal kits are convenient, its “Family Friendly” recipes are kid-tester-approved, and the portions per serving are generous—our tester often had leftovers for lunch the next day. In our survey of meal delivery customers, almost two in three HelloFresh customers recommended their meal kit for families with kids. 

Yaa Boayke, RDN, shares that she prefers a diverse menu that rotates different meals, cuisines, and foods that can broaden an individual’s intake of nutrients. HelloFresh offers a variety of recipes to choose from each week. Its online menu shows more than 90 recipes available for a given week, compared to Blue Apron’s 16 in the same week. This abundance of choices in recipes can give families the variety to try something new for dinner each week while also giving them the option to pick family-favorite recipes. The “Family-Friendly” and “Fast & Easy” meal plans can also help busy families. The Fast & Easy meals can be made in under 20 minutes, and “Family Friendly” recipes have been kid-tested by the company. 

From our tester

“We really loved the taste, and I enjoyed the cooking. With two young children, we’ve tried a lot of pre-prepared meal services, frozen foods, or ordering out, so this was a great return to the cooking that my husband and I love to do in a way that felt manageable.”

Our Handbook Team tester noted that they could choose a delivery day but not a delivery window for their HelloFresh delivery. A meal delivery at 6:30 p.m. might not be as convenient if a family is expecting to eat a meal kit meal the same night. Like Purple Carrot, busy families with tight schedules might need to work around their delivery days and have a backup plan for dinner in case their HelloFresh delivery doesn’t arrive earlier in the day. 

Handbook tip #3

Meal delivery services typically don’t offer a choice in the delivery window. You may be given a delivery window between 8 a.m. and 8 p.m. or similar, which is a wide range. We recommend noting your typical delivery time based on your first couple of deliveries and then planning subsequent delivery day routines around the results. This way, you won’t be left hungry while waiting for a meal delivery.

HelloFresh gives its subscribers the option to swap out proteins in some recipes for more premium proteins like steak. There are also recipes labeled Premium Picks that might have more gourmet ingredients like truffles. Our Handbook Team tester found that some of these swaps can come at a considerable cost—for some recipes, an extra $10 per serving can mean a four-serving meal kit can cost $40 more, which can add up for budget-conscious families. 

Learn more in our HelloFresh review.

Green Chef: Best organic meal delivery service

Features

  • Price per serving: $11.99–$13.49.
  • Plans: Two to four meals per week; two, four, or six servings each meal.
  • Types of meals offered: Gluten-free, keto-friendly, plant-based, fast and easy, low-calorie, high-protein, Mediterranean, gut and brain health.
  • Type: Meal kit.
  • Delivery area: Most of the continental United States.
  • Shipping cost: $10.99.

Pros & Cons

Pros All ingredients are certified organic. Free one-on-one session with a dietitian on your first order. Health-focused meal plans offered. Recyclable packaging and ice packs. Cons Produce may expire quickly. Portion sizes on the smaller side.

Our final verdict

Green Chef is a meal delivery service that shares the same parent company as HelloFresh. Its meal kits are catered to a more health-conscious crowd with recipes labeled for specific health-forward diets such as the Mediterranean diet, low-calorie diets, and plant-based diets. Its ingredients and facility are certified organic by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), which means that it sources and handles organic ingredients according to USDA standards. When organic sourcing isn’t possible, the company labels its ingredients accordingly. 

Though more research is needed, current analysis shows an association between eating organic and some health benefits. A systematic review of published research found that eating more organic foods was associated with benefits in fertility and reduced incidences of birth defects, allergies, ear infections, and metabolic diseases, among others. Whatever your reason for making the swap, we recommend Green Chef if you’re looking to eat more organic food.

Green Chef’s organic produce may have a drawback. During our testing period, our Handbook Team tester found that a couple of items in their meal kits started to spoil in just a couple of days after delivery—before they were able to cook with them. In addition, the per-serving cost for Green Chef is higher than most of our other meal delivery services on this list. These are some considerations to keep in mind if you’re looking for more budget-conscious meal kits. 

Handbook tip #4

Most meal delivery companies recommend consuming their meals within seven days of delivery. Green Chef recommends that seafood should be cooked and eaten within two days of delivery. Consider planning to cook and eat meal kits with seafood or lots of produce first to stay within the seven-day limit.

Our tester appreciated that the meal kits’ packaging and ice packs were recyclable, reducing the trash generated from their kits. 

Portion sizes may be a sticking point for some household members using Green Chef, depending on personal preferences. Our tester found that the serving sizes were on the smaller side, and they often wanted seconds, but there wasn’t enough. If you’re looking for larger portion sizes, we recommend HelloFresh or EveryPlate. 

Frequently asked questions

The best meal delivery service for you can vary based on your dietary preferences, restrictions, and health goals. We tested and reviewed meal delivery services and found that Blue Apron, Purple Carrot, HelloFresh, EveryPlate, and Green Chef were among the best based on factors including taste, variety, and user-friendliness.

Meal kits can be a convenient way for anyone to cook a meal at home without having to grocery shop and plan a meal. Meal kit delivery services can benefit people with busy schedules, who have new diet goals, or who are looking to try new recipes.

Many companies offer prepared meal delivery. Among the brands we thought were the best, Blue Apron and Purple Carrot both offer prepared meals in addition to meal kits. Sunbasket, Factor, Trifecta Nutrition, and Fresh N Lean are some examples of other companies offering prepared meals.

  1. Tiwari, A., Aggarwal, A., Tang, W., & Drewnowski, A. (2017, February 28). Cooking at home: A strategy to comply with U.S. dietary guidelines at no extra cost. American Journal of Preventive Medicine, 52(5), 616–624. Link
  2. Vigar, V., Myers, S., Oliver, C., Arellano, J., Robinson, S., & Leifert, C. (2019, December 18). A systematic review of organic versus conventional food consumption: Is there a measurable benefit on human health? Nutrients, 12(1), 7. Link